On a nice, sunny day it can be very tempting to take your pet rabbit outdoors. The safest way to let your rabbit enjoy the great outdoors is to have a portable pet carrier or to construct an outdoor rabbit run. If you are able to keep a close eye on your rabbit, you may even be able to keep it on a harness outside. When making and using a rabbit harness, it is important to get a tight fit. If your rabbit becomes frightened or nervous, it may try to escape from the harness.
Lay out a piece of cotton fabric on a flat surface. The fabric should be soft and pliable but it should not stretch. To make your rabbit harness you need no more than 1/2 m (1/2 yard) of fabric.
Measure your rabbit to determine the appropriate size for the harness. Place the tip of a measuring tape at the base of your rabbit's neck and measure the length about halfway down its spine, about 5 cm (2 inches) behind its front legs. Record this measurement.
Measure the size of your rabbit's neck and take a measurement around its body. Wrap the measuring tape loosely around your rabbit's neck, holding the animal down so it does not struggle and injure itself. Gently tighten the measuring tape until it fits snugly around your rabbit's neck and record the measurement. Repeat this process to measure the size around your rabbit's body just behind its front legs.
Draw out your pattern on the back side of the cotton fabric using a pencil or a dissolving ink pen. Draw a rectangle 5 cm (2 inches) wide with a length that equals the measurement of your rabbit's neck. Draw a second rectangle 7.5 cm (3 inches) wide with a length equal to the measurement around your rabbit's body. Cut out the two rectangles and set them aside.
Measure your rabbit's back to determine the necessary size for the harness. Place the tip of a measuring tape just behind your rabbit's front leg and drape it over his back. Take note of the measurement between the front legs on both sides of your rabbit.
Subtract 12.5 cm (5 inches) from the measurement you took for the appropriate size of the harness; subtracting 7.5 cm (3 inches) for the strap that goes around your rabbit's body and 5 cm (2 inches) for the strap going around its neck. Mark these measurements on the piece of fabric by drawing a vertical line and make another mark in the exact middle of the line.
Draw a line perpendicular to the first line in the exact centre of the first line using the measurement you took to determine the size of the harness. Draw an arc connecting the points of the three lines on each side of the middle, vertical line previously drawn. The bowl of the arc should hit the point of the middle, shorter line. Once you have drawn the arc on both sides of the vertical line, cut out this pattern.
Hem the edges of your pattern pieces using a sewing machine. Hem only three sides of each of the rectangular strips, one long side and the two short sides and only hem the curved sides of the third pattern piece.
Attach the three pieces to each other using a sewing machine. Place the 5 cm (2 inch) rectangular strip on top of the curved pattern piece with the unhemmed edges lined up and the right sides of the fabric together. Sew a 6 mm (1/4 inch) hem. Repeat this process using the 7.5 cm (3 inch) rectangular strip on the opposite end of the curved pattern piece.
Sew a large button onto one end of both rectangular strips and sew a button hole in the opposite end either by hand or using the buttonhole setting on your sewing machine. The 5 cm (2 inch) strip is wrapped around your rabbit's neck and the 7.5 cm (3 inch) strip goes around its body. The buttons are used to secure the harness.
Attach a metal ring or fabric loop to the right side of the fabric of the finished harness in the centre. If you choose to make a fabric loop, cut a 2.5 by 5 cm (1 by 2 inch) strip of fabric, hem it on all four sides and sew it to the centre of the harness. If you choose to use a metal ring, simply sew the ring directly to the harness using thick thread.
Put your harness on your rabbit by laying the harness flat on its back with the right side of the fabric up. Wrap the neck strap around your rabbit's neck and secure it with the button. Do the same for the body strap and attach your leash or lead rope to the loop on the back of the harness.
This type of vestlike harness is designed to distribute force evenly across your rabbit's body rather than placing all the pressure on his neck. Your rabbit's harness should fit snugly and it should not be able to wriggle out of it on its own.
If your rabbit's harness does not fit snugly, it may find a way to wiggle out of it. Keep a close eye on your rabbit at all times when it is outdoors on a harness. Be extremely careful when using a harness on your rabbit. If you pull on the lead suddenly or if the harness does not distribute the force evenly, your rabbit may choke or suffer other injuries. While is possible to make your own rabbit harness, it may be safer to purchase one from a pet store.
Things you need
- 1/2 m (1/2 yard) of cotton fabric
- Pencil or dissolving ink pen
- Measuring tape
- 2 large buttons
- Metal ring (optional)